04 Mar 2016
AMAL Arsenic Removal Units (ARUs), West Bengal – Alok Kumar Yadav
Development of short and medium term mitigation measures for arsenic contamination in groundwater in Bengal basin is essential. While surface water sources are seen as the most effective mitigation measure, development of large scale surface water sources as an alternative is a process that requires time and large scale community mobilization.
Indian Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology, Kolkata, India in collaboration with Lehigh University, USA has installed more than 200 Arsenic Removal Units (ARUs) in various spaces around West Bengal called AMAL. Design and operation of unit is shown in the schematic diagram below.
Management of AMAL Units:
Water committees are formed in the villages by volunteers who manage the units. Small amount of tariff is collected (10-20 rupees) by the committee for maintenance and upkeep of the units.
- For short term mitigation measures, this can be an effective option.
- Approximately 2 lakh people are risk free from arsenic poisoning.
- Creation of additional employment (caretakers, water collector, plumber, water-container seller etc.)
- Reduction in drudgery for collecting water from safe sources.
- Awareness level of the community has improved in areas where these units are installed.
- There is minimal government involvement, hence dependency on donor agencies.
- Management of the ARUs is dependent on the involvement of local volunteers. Places where community cooperation is less (for various reasons), sustainability of these units is an issue
- The monthly tariffs are a de-motivating factor in many communities as has been evidenced through discussions on the ground